January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


JWC TO ELIZA STODART; 28 December 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18301200-JWC-EA-01; CL 5:206-207.


Craigenputtoch / day of the month unknown [late December 1830]

Dearest Eliza

It is almost worthwhile to have a sore-throat ‘at a time,’1 to rouse lethargic friends into naturality. I had quite lost all expectation of hearing from you; and what is more, lost all acquaintance of your handwriting: so that I could not conjecture, from the address on your letter, from whom it came[.] The seal I thought I had seen before, but could not possibly recollect where: and when I ‘took a peep into the inside’ my perplexity was only increased—‘new administration’—‘Duke of R——’ ‘damnable heresy’— Who could it be at all?2 At length to my great relief (for I could find no signature) my eye lighted on a wee unforget[t]able ‘Bradie3 And then I was glad as might be and astonished at my own stupidity. It is a real hardship that you will not write oftener; it is only thro' your letters that any tone of the old time ever reaches me—all the rest of my young companions, if they have not got new faces, having at least got new dialects. And then you have such plenty of interesting matter lying on all hands— If you were in my place you would have more excuse who have to produce letters as the silk-worm spins, all out of my own inside.4

We have been very solitary for a long while, our only visitors are now and then a stray pack-man. and the last of these pronounced the place ‘altogether heathenish’ so there is no hope of our being favoured with his company another time. Nevertheless I keep up my heart. There is nothing like a good fit of pain for taking the conceit out of one. Had I been newly returned from Edinr, my thoughts still wandering on the mountain-tops of vanity, it is probable I should have found life here in this grim[m]est of weather almost intolerable; but being newly recovered from a sore-throat I am quite content beside a good fire, with a book or work, and the invaluable capacity of swallowing tho' the desert around looks the very head quarters of winter; and our knocker hangs a useless ornament.

My Grandfather was no worse when my Mother wrote last week; and her luck seemed to be taking a favourable turn; she had got a visitor, than whom “no sweeter ever crossed a threshold”— I mean to spend a week with her so soon as I am able to ride: but I am not quite well yet—at least I am still wearing signals of distress—a nightcap and shawl—that partly I confess, from a secret persuasion that these equipments render my appearanc[e] more interesting— But Mercy here is dark night come upon me and a box has yet to be packed with which a man has to ride six miles thro' the snow— I will write you at more length another time—and in the mean while this will show my good intentions——God bless you Dear a kiss to your Uncle

in breakneck haste your / affectionate friend /

Jane W Carlyle